The Gospel reading this week is focused on death. In the Gospel Reading, Jesus tells his apostles not to be afraid of those who can kill you. They are not to be feared, because death itself is not to be feared.
No doubt, there is always something sorrowful about dying, because the death of the body separates the dying person from his family and his friends; and they still have to slog through their lives in this world without their companion. But Jesus is telling people not to fear facing death.
If you were walking alone down a dark street late at night, and you saw a small knot of strangers gathered menacingly at a corner, wouldn’t you be afraid? Shouldn’t you be afraid? If the cancer doctor tells you that you have only months to live, wouldn’t you—shouldn’t you—be afraid?
How can Jesus tell us—actually, command us—not to be afraid of death?
Well, think about it this way. If you are surprised when you discover that you are dying, you just haven’t been paying attention. None of us is getting out of this alive. Everyone of us will die. It is just a question of when. Or maybe better: it is just a question of how.
Are you afraid now? Is this scary to you?
What is worth fearing is losing all of this beauty and goodness on the other side of death because you will not surrender to the love of the Lord who calls you to himself. But that death comes from sin, as the Second Reading says, and no one can force sin on you. If you wall yourself off from the love of the Lord, you kill your soul yourself. That is definitely worth fearing, as the Lord says.